Independence Day Speech by Ambassador Scott C. Miller – June 28, 2023

Excellencies, Madame State Secretary Stoffel, Members of the National and Cantonal Governments, friends, fellow citizens, family, members of the diplomatic corps, and other distinguished guests – good evening and thank you for joining us for the 247th anniversary of American independence.

Welcome to the U.S. Embassy’s Stars & Stripes Independence Day Celebration.  We are pleased that you can join us for this memorable occasion.  At this time, I would like to ask that you all please stand for the Liechtenstein and Swiss national anthems.

And now please remain standing for the presentation of the colors by the U.S. Embassy Marine Security Guard Detachment, and the singing of the National Anthem.

Thank you to the Embassy Marine Security Guard Detachment and Staff Sergeant Jones for the presentation and posting of the colors.

Thank you to Ms. Urian Booze for her amazing rendition of the national anthem.

I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank all the wonderful people who have helped pull together today’s big event:

Selina Frommer and the spectacular team at the Hotel Dolder.  Thank you for allowing us to host our first off-site Independence Day celebration at this beautiful property.  And for the fantastic service today.

Maida Kranjc – the Embassy’s spectacularly capable, super organized, and kind protocol guru.

Susan Hinton, my executive assistant.

Evan Davis, our beloved Public Affairs Officer who is departing at the end of this week.  You have had such an impact during your time here and I will miss you very much.

Bobby Yang and his Unrivaled Players for the music & entertainment.

Elizabeth Slossberg and the team at EKS Events who have been planning this event for the last year.  Thank you, Elizabeth, for your professionalism, the fun you bring and for your friendship.

To my beloved husband and Ambassadarling, Tim Gill. – This experience would be wholly incomplete without you here.  As we will be celebrating 21 perfect years together this fall, I want to take every opportunity I can in private and public to tell you that it is from your example that I model public service, leadership, and empathy.  It is your example of selflessness that has inspired me every day.  Thank you so much, Tim.

And lastly – thank you to the members of the Embassy community.  Your hard work and dedication day after day are a true testament to the strength of our bilateral relationship.  It is because of you that we have been able to achieve so much.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Today, we gather to celebrate the anniversary of American independence.  Nearly 250 years since our nation’s founders proclaimed the “unalienable rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we remember the great courage and conviction of those who first dreamed of a free United States, and we celebrate the enduring principles of the Declaration of Independence — democracy, freedom, and self-determination.

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate that spirit with picnics, hotdogs, family reunions, and of course fireworks.  But it’s important to remember what today means for Americans at home and abroad — how incredibly lucky we are that individuals, generations ago, were willing to fight for freedom and independence.

At first glance, the United States and Switzerland seem like two very different countries — different languages, different cultures, different visions of representative democracy.  Nonetheless, we are often called Sister Republics.  A close look at our founding histories reveals that we are much closer than one may initially assume.

Since the first days of the Swiss Confederation in 1648 and the establishment of the thirteen colonies in North America, leaders in politics, business, and culture from both nascent federalist states have shaped each other’s futures.  A Swiss political scientist once said, “We are like twins that were separated at birth, grew up in different families, but maintained close contact.”

This year, as we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Swiss constitution, we reaffirm that our founding principles and histories are inextricably linked.

Over the last year, we’ve been able to forge new opportunities with Switzerland and Liechtenstein and build on our long history of cooperation to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.  There is no issue of global importance where our nations are not leading together, or where we are not sharing our common values to make things better.  This is a testament to the strength of our underlying guiding principles: our respect for democratic values and the international system.  As evidenced by Liechtenstein and Switzerland’s participation in the U.S. hosted Summit for Democracy.

The continuing crisis in Ukraine is a stark reminder of exactly the importance — and the fragility — of representative democracy.  The liberties we often take for granted must be fiercely defended, both at home and abroad.  That fight is not confined to any one nation or people — it is a universal struggle that requires collective resolve and unwavering determination.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Ambassador Venediktova.  Thank you, madam Ambassador, to you and the people of Ukraine, who have courageously displayed the true meaning of patriotism, freedom, and democracy.

The courage of the Ukrainian people in the face of seemingly impossible odds has served as an inspiration to all who value liberty, and reinforces the fundamental truth that the defense of freedom is a duty we all share.

Ukraine has only strengthened our resolve to support the democratic values we hold so dear.  Our support for Ukraine is not about dividing the world into rigid ideological blocks.  It is not about containing or keeping down any power.  It is about upholding — and just as importantly, revitalizing – the shared systems, values, and core principles that have fostered peace and prosperity throughout the international community – forged in the ashes of the second world war.

Today, some people around the world would like us to believe that democracy is teetering on the brink of crisis—a crisis rooted in an ideological clash between opposing visions.  In many ways, this clash has defined world history.  It is embedded in America’s founding charter that simultaneously proclaims all men equal but does not give equal rights to women, enslaved peoples, and Native Americans.

It is a vision of our democracy that has found itself tested on the fields of Gettysburg; on a bridge in Selma; at The Stonewall Inn; and even on the steps of Congress.

At the heart of this long-running clash is a simple question: Do we wish to match the reality of the United States of America to that of its principles? The answer is yes! From working as a LGBTQ rights activist to traveling on the campaign trail with President Biden, I have seen firsthand the true promise of America.

That a poor kid can grow up to become a world leading researcher.

That a man from small town Indiana can become a tech entrepreneur and visionary philanthropist.

That a single mother can become the CEO of a fortune 500 company.

That an immigrant can become a diplomat.

That a refugee can become a congresswoman.

So let us remember these examples as we see increased attacks on immigration at home and abroad.  We must remember that the United States is a nation of immigrants, and our diversity is our strength.

Many of these examples regarding the potential of America also hold true for the rest of the world.  We are witnessing this over the past year, as Liechtenstein and Switzerland have opened their arms to more than 65,000 Ukrainians fleeing war and destruction.  These arrivals are adding to both countries diversity and bringing new skills, ideas, creativity, and potential.

Immigration is about equal opportunity and a fair shot.

Last year, I met a young man from Liberia in an apprenticeship program.  When I asked him what his apprenticeship meant to him, he simply replied, “a future.”

His answer was obviously short, but it stuck with me because I realized how immensely meaningful that experience was for his and his family’s future.

So, on this day as we celebrate, as we ponder the meaning of the American story, we must also recommit to making sure that everyone has opportunity and that everyone gets a fair shot.

That we ensure ALL people are given access to the freedoms that we value so much.  That is what we should be striving for every day in the United States, and around the world!

Our countries owe each other a great deal, and the learning process is still ongoing.  So, let us look at ways in which we can continue to learn and cooperate with each other, to uphold the ideals that are the foundation of our great nations.

Thank you for coming to share in our celebration.  On behalf of Tim and myself, the entire U.S. Embassy community and the United States Government,

I would like to wish you a happy Fourth of July.